Category: 1 star and a half

Historical Romance Review: The Treacherous Heart by Angela Alexie

the treacherous heart
the treacherous heart
The Treacherous Heart, Angela Alexie, Fawcett, 1980, Elaine Gignilliat cover art

SPOILER ALERT ⚠

1 1/2 star

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Don’t Tell Me You’ve Heard This One Before!

The Treacherous Heart by Angela Alexie is a tale of a Gaelic, black-haired, fiery-spirited lass forced by circumstances to become a thief to provide for her family, only to be thwarted by an arrogant, scar-faced, golden-haired Duke… Hmm. Where have I heard this plot before? Oh yes, Laurie McBain‘s Moonstruck Madness! Sadly, that’s where the similarities end. If you remove all the intelligent writing, the interesting side characters, and the sexual chemistry between the leads from McBain’s book, we have this dull, meandering read. Except for Jennifer Blake, I’ve come to find that Fawcett-published romances were rarely ever excellent, and this dud is another to put in the slush pile.

The Plot

One day in Lancashire, England, some drunken soldiers looking for excitement come upon the house of the Avory family. They ransack the home, kill the dog, the Irish-born widow Lady Delilah, and her young son before raping the teenaged daughter. The eldest sister, and our heroine, Raven, was not in residence while this occurred, arriving in time to witness the aftermath of her home’s destruction.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: The Treacherous Heart by Angela Alexie”

Category Romance Review: Tangled Hearts by JoAnn Ross

Tangled Hearts, JoAnn Ross, Harlequin, 1990, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Temptation #333

1 1/2 stars

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

I have to give it JoAnn Ross for her book Tangled Hearts, in that she tried to do something unique for a category romance novel. It’s just unfortunate for me that I didn’t like where she went with it.

The cover of this Halequin Temptation tells it all, pretty much. There’s a couple engaged in a sexy embrace while in the background is a black and white image of lone man.

The Plot

Alanna Cantrell got married to Mitch Cantrell six years ago. Their whirlwind courtship was passionate and thrilling. But soon afterward, terrorists captured Mitch, a journalist, who was taken hostage and presumed killed.

Over the years Alanna has picked up the pieces of her life. By the time the story opens, she’s seeing Jonas Harte, a staid, steady, predictable kind of guy, certainly not the type to gallivant off to war-torn countries for the thrill of reporting a story. Just as Alanna and Jonas are about to announce their engagement, who should turn up from the dead, but Mitch, Alanna’s husband?

Through flashbacks we are shown how Mitch and Alanna met and see their brief time together before his disappearance.... Read more “Category Romance Review: Tangled Hearts by JoAnn Ross”

Category Romance Review: Come Back to Me by Catherine George

Harlequin Presents #1321
1 1/2 Stars

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Catherine George is a category romance author who rarely disappoints. Sadly, Come Back to Me is one of those rare occasions.

The Plot

The plot centers around revenge, a trope I usually enjoy. However, the execution in this book… It’s quite odd. The heroine’s sister had a one-night stand with a married man and became impregnated. The sister dies and then Julia, our heroine, is forced to care for the baby. Mistakenly, she believes it’s the hero Marcus’s happily married brother who slept with and then abandoned her sister.

So Julia plots the lamest revenge ever conceived. Oh, she’ll get back at that man for his evil deeds. How? By putting herself through school and learning to be the most efficient secretary ever hired by a corporation. She’ll deal with the hero’s clients, organize his social calendar, and capably smooth over his troubles until he becomes so reliant on her, then she’ll somehow inveigle her way into the hero’s family and ruin the brother.

How’s that supposed to work? Will she quit, forcing Marcus to run after her, offer her a raise, and declare that he’s never had an assistant as competent as she and damn his brother to hell on top of that?... Read more “Category Romance Review: Come Back to Me by Catherine George”

Category Romance Review: Shattered Dreams by Sally Wentworth

Shattered Dreams, Sally Wentworth, Harlequin, 1983, cover artist TBD

Harlequin Presents #629

1 1/stars

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

Of course, [the heroine] is a virgin, but [the hero] accuses her of being the sluttiest slut who ever did slut.

-From review of Shattered Dreams

Sally Wentworth’s Shattered Dreams is terrible, for all the wrong reasons, although I’ve read books where far worse events occur to the heroine. Take the bodice ripper great, Stormfire, for example. However, in this Harlequin Presents what the hero does to the heroine seems more repulsive, perhaps due to its condensed nature. Where thick historical romances like Stormfire have 400-500+ pages to deal with insane heroes and their co-dependent heroines, a category romance is limited to 60,000-70,000 words. The craziness level can only be ratcheted up so far before the hero becomes irredeemable.

The Crazy Plot

Sally Wentworth always wrote very well, her prose attentive and skillful, but this one was truly bizarre. Kate is happy as a bride can be on her wedding day, as she’s marrying Hugo, the man she loves. Little does she know what her marriage holds in store for her. For Hugo has had a private detective tailing his nubile young wife and he’s found out startling information: over the past year, she’s been living with some strange man while playing the wealthy Hugo for a fool!... Read more “Category Romance Review: Shattered Dreams by Sally Wentworth”

Historical Romance Review: Texas Princess by Veronica Blake

Texas Princess, Veronica Blake, Zebra, 1992, cover artist TBD

1 1/2 stars

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

As usual, the folks at Zebra were just slapping generic titles onto these books as just a tiny portion of Texas Princess is set in Texas. The hero and heroine travel across the western US and they only get to the Lonestar State at the very end of the book.

The main recollection about this book that that sticks with me is that I kept wondering: “When do they get to Texas? The book’s almost over. What about Texas?” Not a good sign. The editors could have gone with something like Gypsy Princess (although perhaps in today’s environment that would be seen as insensitive), Emerald Princess, or Forbidden Passions. I checked & none of those titles were taken.

As for the book itself?

Sad to say that Texas Princess was a forgettable Zebra Heartfire. Tasmin, the eponymous Texas princess who is not actually royalty from America’s 28th state, is betrothed to the leader of her Roma tribe, a kind and handsome man. However, she falls for a gadjo cowboy drifter, Blayde (I think that was his name) instead. Passion ensues.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Texas Princess by Veronica Blake”

Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rebel by Iris Bancroft

Rapture’s Rebel, Iris Bancoft, Pinnacle, 1980, cover artist unknown

From the back of the book:

Torn between her desires for a Russian colonel and a dashing lieutenant in the Swedish army, Kirsten is swept by savage destiny into the raging lusts of a revolution… Against the tumultuous background of the Northern War of 1710 is woven the enthralling saga of a tempestuous woman forced to choose between her impassioned loyalty and the ecstasy of forbidden love.

1 1/2 stars

Rating: 1.5 out of 5.

I HATE being let down by books that seem to have promise, but end with a lifeless whimper. Bodice rippers set in Russia are my siren song! This should have rocked!

Rapture’s Rebel by Iris Bancroft is the first non-Viking historical romance set in Scandinavia that I’ve read.

The Plot

Russian soldiers have taken over a town in Sweden and Kirsten hides in a hot sauna for protection. Stupid Kirsten lets a little kitty in there with her and he dies, the poor thing! Well, maybe not so poor. Kitty’s pain is over, but mine was still to come as I had this turkey of a book to finish.

The heroine’s a twa– er twit, and there’s a rapacious older Russian (basically Rod Steiger in Dr.... Read more “Historical Romance Review: Rapture’s Rebel by Iris Bancroft”